Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge refuses to throw out evidence in Graziano murder-for-hire case

LARGO — An attempt to throw out evidence in the murder-for-hire case against Edward Graziano has failed.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Timothy Peters ruled Friday that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office did not break any rules by going outside Pinellas to investigate some aspects of the case in Hillsborough County. And Peters threw aside a claim that a private investigator broke the rules of his profession by giving police information about Graziano, who was a client of his.

Although private investigators are not supposed to share information they gather for a specific client, it's also obvious that people "cannot lawfully participate in a murder for hire scheme," Peters wrote.

Graziano, 55, is accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill his wife, Debra, for $1,100 in cash, a personal check for $1,000 and a gift card to Westshore Pizza for $13.06.

He is the father of John Graziano, who was severely injured in a car driven by Nick Bollea in August 2007 during a crash during a street race in downtown Clearwater. Bollea's father, Terry, is the professional wrestler known as Hulk Hogan.

Peters found that private investigator Jeff Wilson went to authorities because he "was not willing to stand silent at the risk that Mr. Graziano would follow through on his apparently credible threat to find someone to kill his wife or to murder her himself and then commit suicide."

Defense attorney John Trevena had argued that undercover deputies kept returning to Graziano even though he was expressing doubts about whether he wanted to go through with it.

"The problem with this argument is the evidence establishes the only concern of Mr. Graziano was getting caught," Peters wrote.

Trevena said "we are disappointed with the court's ruling and we will take the matter up to the 2nd District Court of Appeal at the appropriate time."

But Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said the ruling shows the Sheriff's Office acted properly, and that the private investigator "not only acted lawfully but took the necessary steps to prevent the death of Debra Graziano."

Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or [email protected]

Judge refuses to throw out evidence in Graziano murder-for-hire case 01/07/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 10:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police plan community meeting as search for Seminole Heights killer continues


    TAMPA — With people in Seminole Heights on edge following three related shooting deaths on their streets, police have planned a community meeting for Monday.

    The three Seminole Heights victims, from left: Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22; Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32; and Anthony Naiboa, 20. [Facebook, family photos]
  2. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  3. Hudson man, 19, killed by hit-and-run driver while walking in street, FHP says


    A 19-year-old Hudson man walking in the street Friday night was struck and killed by a pickup truck that fled the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  4. Road Ranger hurt after truck catches fire in crash at I-275, Busch


    TAMPA — A Road Ranger was seriously injured when a drunk driver ran into the back of his truck on Interstate 275 and both vehicles burst into flame, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

    Brian Nelson Barrett, 42, of Wimauma, was headed north on I-275 in his Road Ranger truck Saturday morning 10/21/17 when a car hit him from behind, causing both vehicles to erupt in flames.
  5. Nicked-up Lightning vs. Penguins tonight